My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This is a book with quite a bit of hype around it but the reviews seem mixed. There are a lot of “best book ever” type ratings and some “hated it” reviews too. I’m not really in either camp. I liked it, didn’t love it but didn’t hate it either.
It does have a lot of plus points which make it worth reading, a strong female character who deals incredibly well with a disability, a realistic romance and a strong friendship between a group of girls from different social standings. However while I absolutely loved main character Parker I thought it fell a little short in terms of the secondary characters. For a debut novel though it’s pretty good.
Synopsis (from GoodReads)
Don’t deceive me. Ever. Especially using my blindness. Especially in public.
Don’t help me unless I ask. Otherwise you’re just getting in my way or bothering me.
Don’t be weird. Seriously, other than having my eyes closed all the time, I’m just like you only smarter.
Parker Grant doesn’t need 20/20 vision to see right through you. That’s why she created the Rules: Don’t treat her any differently just because she’s blind, and never take advantage. There will be no second chances. Just ask Scott Kilpatrick, the boy who broke her heart.
When Scott suddenly reappears in her life after being gone for years, Parker knows there’s only one way to react—shun him so hard it hurts. She has enough on her mind already, like trying out for the track team (that’s right, her eyes don’t work but her legs still do), doling out tough-love advice to her painfully naive classmates, and giving herself gold stars for every day she hasn’t cried since her dad’s death three months ago. But avoiding her past quickly proves impossible, and the more Parker learns about what really happened—both with Scott, and her dad—the more she starts to question if things are always as they seem. Maybe, just maybe, some Rules are meant to be broken.
Combining a fiercely engaging voice with true heart, debut author Erid Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First illuminates those blind spots that we all have in life, whether visually impaired or not.
It’s actually not the type of book I usually read. I do read a lot of YA but I’m not keen on stories about dealing with disability, illness etc. I feel like they are either trying too hard to be worthy, trying to fit in with a fad or jump on the band wagon of other similar stories (TFIOS).
What drew me to this story and what I liked about it is that while the main protagonist is blind that’s not really what the story is about. Parker Grant is not a woe is me type character. She’s not looking for anyone else’s sympathy and heaven help you if you break one of her rules. She’s a tough cookie and someone I’d probably be terrified of in real life. She speaks her mind, doesn’t care what anyone thinks (or at least acts convincingly like she doesn’t) and can be pretty fearless.
There is a lot of detail about what it’s like to be blind and the methods of coping with everyday life which I found fascinating but it’s really a story about growing up, working out what’s important and friendship.
There is a little bit of romance thrown in but it’s kind of secondary to the plot. If you’re looking instant love and happily ever afters this probably isn’t the book for you. If you’re looking for a story about close friends supporting each other no matter what it probably is.
Similarly Parker definitely isn’t for everyone. Personally I liked her a lot but I can understand why a lot of people don’t. She does change over the course of the story and becomes a bit softer and more likeable but to me it always seems more believable to have someone who isn’t perfect, who makes mistakes and learns from them.
There were a few bits that niggled me and I felt like it was a little bit light on some of the supporting characters as it’s pretty much all within Parkers head but I suppose it does in a way reflect how she sees the world.
It is an enjoyable read, I did laugh a few times and shed a few tears, but I didn’t love as much as others have. I suspect it might be geared towards much younger readers though.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.